Vulnerabilities exploited by manipulators
According to Braiker, manipulators exploit the following vulnerabilities (buttons) that may exist in victims:
- the “disease to please”
- addiction to earning the approval and acceptance of others
- Emotophobia (fear of negative emotion)
- lack of assertiveness and ability to say no
- blurry sense of identity (with soft personal boundaries)
- low self-reliance
- external locus of control
According to Simon, manipulators exploit the following vulnerabilities that may exist in victims:
- naïveté – victim finds it too hard to accept the idea that some people are cunning, devious and ruthless or is “in denial” if he or she is being victimized
- over-conscientiousness – victim is too willing to give manipulator the benefit of the doubt and see their side of things in which they blame the victim
- low self-confidence – victim is self-doubting, lacking in confidence and assertiveness, likely to go on the defensive too easily.
- over-intellectualization – victim tries too hard to understand and believes the manipulator has some understandable reason to be hurtful.
- emotional dependency – victim has a submissive or dependent personality. The more emotionally dependent the victim is, the more vulnerable he or she is to being exploited and manipulated.
- too trusting – people who are honest often assume that everyone else is honest. They commit themselves to people they hardly know without checking credentials, etc. They rarely question so-called experts.
- too altruistic – the opposite of psychopathic; too honest, too fair, too empathetic
- too impressionable – overly seduced by charmers. For example, they might vote for the phony politician who kisses babies.
- too naïve – cannot believe there are dishonest people in the world or if there were they would not be allowed to operate.
- too masochistic – lack of self-respect and unconsciously let psychopaths take advantage of them. They think they deserve it out of a sense of guilt.
- too narcissistic – narcissists are prone to falling for unmerited flattery.
- too greedy – the greedy and dishonest may fall prey to a psychopath who can easily entice them to act in an immoral way.
- too immature – has impaired judgment and believes the exaggerated advertising claims.
- too materialistic – easy prey for loan sharks or get-rich-quick schemes
- too dependent – dependent people need to be loved and are therefore gullible and liable to say yes to something to which they should say no.
- too lonely – lonely people may accept any offer of human contact. A psychopathic stranger may offer human companionship for a price.
- too impulsive – make snap decisions about, for example, what to buy or whom to marry without consulting others.
- too frugal – cannot say no to a bargain even if they know the reason why it is so cheap
- the elderly – the elderly can become fatigued and less capable of multi-tasking. When hearing a sales pitch they are less likely to consider that it could be a con. They are prone to giving money to someone with a hard-luck story. See elder abuse.